Bad weather dampens trade for West Midlands and Staffordshire beer gardens

It has been a week of awful weather – with the rain continuing to pour down across the Black Country and Staffordshire and showing no signs of stopping.

Landlord Kerry Brummell of The Fox at Shipley
Landlord Kerry Brummell of The Fox at Shipley

And for hospitality businesses it has been an extremely difficult period due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, with only outdoor areas allowed to open.

For pubs, it has left beer gardens facing the brunt of the fearsome weather, with some closing and others being drenched in rain as more people opt to stay indoors.

Kelly Brummell, from The Fox at Shipley, said: “I would say the rain has stopped people from coming out.

"If people are dining and it rains they’ve got nowhere to go because we can’t let them go inside because of Covid rules and so it’s really affected the business.

“We’ve had to close and we’re only doing short days, too. We didn’t open on bank holiday Monday because of the weather and it’s affected us big time.

"This time last year it was absolutely gorgeous and it’s a shame we can’t have that weather now.

"We made a decision to close on the bank holiday last Thursday when we saw the weather forecast.

"We thought it’s silly staffing the place knowing full-well what was coming.”

Aside from the awful weather, there are signs things are returning to normal – with bookings steadily coming in for when it can fully reopen on May 17.

The Mermaid Pub, on Bridgnorth Road in Wolverhampton, was forced to close due to the constant rain.

It said on social media: “The weather looks to be taking a severe turn for the worse.

"Whilst we admire everyone’s perseverance to battle the elements, we believe we won’t be able to deliver the world class service we expect from ourselves in such poor conditions.”

It shared a photograph of the inside of the pub, stating that May 17 – the day restrictions are expected to ease – is the date “we are all counting down to”.

Limited

Darren Wood, landlord of the New Inn in Newport, near Stafford, said his pub has been doing well since reopening but is only serving drinks for the time-being, as its chefs are still on furlough.

“Trade has been relatively good – it’s been nice and steady,” Mr Wood said.

“It was nice to see people again and it went very well, but it starts to slow up when it gets colder in the evenings. It’s weather dependent.

"We have 22 socially-distanced tables outside but only six are under cover.”

Mr Wood says he has been forced to shut the pub on some days this week due to the weather, which has brought rain, hail and even a hint of snow. He says he is watching the forecast closely every day.

He said he understood the frustration by some at only being able to open outdoors under current restrictions, which has left certain venues unable to reopen at all due to limited space.

But he added: “There’s no point forcing it and rushing it. It has been a long 12 months. Hospitality needs that reassurance of people being able to sit inside again. It can’t come quick enough for the industry.”

Elsewhere, Dudley Zoo said the rain hadn’t had much of an impact on people turning out due to tickets being pre-booked through the system – with numbers over the past few days being “fully booked”, with people coming prepared for the harsh weather.

Other attractions, like the Severn Valley Railway, have also enjoyed the return of visitors.

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